Being A Material Girl Is All Right With Me
Photography by Stephen Schauer
Is being materialistic a bad thing? Madonna’s hit song, “Material Girl,” came out when I was just a kid, and even then I felt myself torn between complicated emotions. I wanted to wear diamonds, like she did in her music video, and be hoisted in the air by a bevy of bow ties and biceps.
But, I’d never admit that to anyone, not even myself. I was afraid of my parent’s judgment of “material pride.” I was taught to believe those were bad people, the rich folks who could get through an eye of a needle faster than they could get into heaven. And I really wanted to go to the promised land of harps and angels someday… Heaven had to be better than the ugly place I was stuck in.
I’ve spent a lot of years wondering if wanting things made me less spiritual. I thought that being poor and wearing my beat-up Birkenstocks brought me closer to the universe somehow. I tried not to place a lot of interest in my looks or surroundings and spent a lot of time feeling superior to those who concerned themselves with such material matters. I’d constructed this better-than attitude when actually, I felt inferior to the celebrities I saw gracing the covers of magazines. Instead of letting myself work with those judgments, it was easier to shun them all as being less-than. Not spiritual. Materialistic.
One day during meditation, I had a moment of clarity. If we are indeed spiritual beings having a human experience, isn’t the whole point to be in the material world? To enjoy it, taste it, feel it, wear it, whatever it is? I realized that I couldn’t separate myself from the physical or the material. I saw Earth as a school and my life as one big lesson; all of the things of a physical nature that surrounded me were of spiritual nature, too. I realized it’s impossible to separate the two.
So what would happen if I decided to allow the beautiful, material and abundant nature of the universe to flow into my life? Well, for one, I started to let myself appreciate the gorgeous clothes I saw on the runways. Fashion was no longer something outside of my world; it was part of me. I loved it, all of it. And, more importantly, I knew I was worthy of it.
I appreciate great design and like to feel beautiful. Not to feel better than anyone, but because it makes me happy. The way a well-fitting suit can make me feel poised, or how the rounded lines of a coffee table can hold my glass with form and function—the material world impacts most aspects of our lives. In fact, my idea of heaven is a place filled with impeccably dressed people who appreciate good design in all of their surroundings. Sort of like the Oscars, but I get to live there, all the time. And I’ve created that heaven in my home. I mean, celebrities don’t saunter through my kitchen on a red carpet, but I am surrounded by beauty every direction my gaze lands. Heaven is here, today and now.
Embracing my love of design actually led me to my calling as a Style Editor and “Shoeologist.” I see fashion as a tool for healing. Like an acupuncturist using needles to heal her patients, I use shoes and unique life-coaching methods to work with the women who come to me for help. I believe the right pair of shoes can make an insecure person feel more confident, help a woman with a broken heart become more open to love, and even add spice to one’s sex life. I love sharing who I am and supporting others to express themselves through their sartorial choices.
My “sole awakening” happened several years ago when I was having one of those days. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt off balance and couldn’t shake it. I glanced at my feet and wondered if the wobbly heels I had on might have something to do with my unsteady state? I kicked them off and slid on a pair of ballerina flats I keep in the back of my car for emergencies. I felt more grounded in that instant than I had all day—not just physically but spiritually, too. I’ve always loved the elegant simplicity of a ballerina flat; the chic lines and versatile design work with almost any outfit, comfortably. They have an almost magical ability to connect me to my sense of inner balance. When I started to feel funky again, I reconnected with my ballerina flats and envisioned myself moving with a dancer’s steadiness. My shoes supported my posture and helped me shift my inner experience. The “material” had become a kind of “spiritual” tool for me.
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